South Korean mobile carrier seeks global lead in 5G race

SK Telecom is seeking to become the first industry player to commercialise the superfast mobile network by 2019.

sk telecom 5g network
The logo of SK Innovation is seen in front of its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, 3 February 2017 (Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo/Reuters)

South Korea is bound to lead the global race in bringing the 5G network to the market as a home-grown mobile network operator has been doubling its efforts on this project.

SK Telecom is seeking to become the global leader in 5G network use, aiming to be the first industry player to commercialise the superfast mobile network by 2019. SK Telecom and other mobile carriers around the world have been working with equipment makers to create and polish a range of new network technologies vital to 5G.

Also read: South Korea, Japan, China, among key markets to pioneer 5G services in 2019

Fifth generation, or 5G, is a superfast wireless network system that has transmission speeds approximately 20 times faster than 4G or LTE networks. Hyped to deliver extremely low latency, this network can transmit large amounts of data which is great for emerging industries such as self-driving cars, virtual and augmented reality, and the Internet of Things.

Qualcomm chief executive Steven Mollenkopf predicted South Korea will pioneer 5G network technologies by 2019, alongside big markets like Japan, the US and China.

"You will see robust demand in all of those locations, meaning that there are multiple operators wanting to be first and not be left behind," said Mollenkopf in a previous interview with Reuters. "(Most) will have a different deployment strategy or goal."

UK-based market research firm Juniper Research recently dubbed SK Telecom the most promising 5G network operator worldwide for its innovative take on 5G-enabling core technologies, including network splicing, multiple-input multiple output (MIMO), transmission and millimetre waves.

The South Korean mobile network carrier beat Japan's NTT Docomo, China Mobile, the US's AT&T Mobility and fellow South Korean KT.

At the Mobile World Congress earlier this year, Ericsson reported that the 5G market could grow to US$1.23tn by 2026. Meanwhile, market research firm HIS Markit sees the global 5G value chain generating US$3.5tn in output and support 22 million jobs in 2035.